Saturday, September 20, 2014

TODAY ONLY Bargain Ebook: Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut for $1.99

Bluebeard: The Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian (1916-1988) by Kurt Vonnegut is on sale today only for $1.99 on Amazon as part of their Daily Deals. It has been on sale before but usually lists in the $7-8 range. I bought it for $1.99 two years ago and I think it has been on sale once since then.

Book description:

Bluebeard, published in 1987, is Vonnegut's meditation on art, artists, surrealism, and disaster. Meet Rabo Karabekian, a moderately successful surrealist painter, who we meet late in life and see struggling (like all of Vonnegut's key characters), with the dregs of unresolved pain and the consequences of brutality. Loosely based on the legend of Bluebeard (best realized in Bela Bartok's one-act opera), the novel follows Karabekian through the last events in his life that is heavy with women, painting, artistic ambition, artistic fraudulence, and as of yet unknown consequence.

Vonnegut's intention here is not so much satirical (although the contemporary art scene would be easy enough to deconstruct), nor is it documentary (although Karabekian does carry elements of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko). Instead, Vonnegut is using art for the same purpose he used science fiction cliches in Slaughterhouse-Five; as a filter through which he can illuminate the savagery, cruelty, and the essentially comic misdirection of human existence.

Readers will recognize familiar Vonnegut character types and archetypes as they drift in and out through the background; meanwhile, Karabekian, betrayed and betrayer, sinks through a bottomless haze of recollection. Like most of Vonnegut's late works, this is both science fiction and cruel contemporary realism at once, using science fiction as metaphor for human damage as well as failure to perceive. Readers will find that Vonnegut's protagonists can never really clarify for us whether they are ultimately unwitting victims or simple barbarians, leaving it up to the reader to determine in which genre this book really fits, if any at all.


Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.


Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut's World War II POW experience) and Cat's Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut's work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut's work as well as newcomers.

Bargain Ebook: A Question of Magic by E. D. Baker for $1.99

A Question of Magic by E. D. Baker is bargain priced again--it was on sale this past spring--for $1.99. It is part of the The Big Deal: Kindle Books Up to 85% Off which started yesterday on Amazon and lasts through 10/5/14. It was the only fair tale related title on the list although there are some other fine titles for sale, too.

Published late last year, this one is part of the Baba Yaga trend in fairy tale retellings that I've mentioned on the blog here of late.

Book description:

Serafina was living the normal life of a village girl, when she gets a mysterious letter--her first letter ever, in fact--from a great aunt she's never heard of in another village. Little does 'Fina know, her great aunt is actually a Baba Yaga, a magical witch who lives in an even more magical cottage.

Summoned to the cottage, Serafina's life takes an amazing turn as she finds herself becoming the new Baba Yaga. But leaving behind home and the boy she loves isn't easy, and as Serafina grows into her new and magical role answering the first question any stranger might ask her with the truth, she also learns about the person she's meant to be, and that telling the future doesn't always mean knowing the right answers.

In her inimitable and bestselling way, ED Baker has crafted a funny and romantic story that combines some fabulous details from the original Slavic tale, with an all new spin!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Fairy Tales in Advertising: Abril Educação

Abril Educação: Cinderella

And this was the last time that Cinderella saw her prince charming.
The story ends where you stop reading.
Keep reading.

It has been a while since I did an advertising post. I enjoyed this series from Abril Educação (Adult Education) in Brazil. The message is strong--and one I believe in!--plus it's always fascinating to see how fairy tales are used in other countries, too. After all, that is one of the philosophies behind SurLaLune--showing the international scope of fairy tales. 

Here is the ad campaigns info, courtesy of Ads of the World:

Advertising Agency: Artplan, São Paulo, Brazil
Chief Creative Officer: Roberto Vilhena
Creative Director: Rodrigo Moraes
Art Director: Diogo Barbosa
Copywriter: Rodrigo Sanches
Illustrator: Mutato Art
Published: January 2014

And since we are here, I thought I would share the other two posters in the campaign, too.

Abril Educação: Excalibur

And Excalibur remains spiked in the stone until the present day.
The story ends where you stop reading.
Keep reading.

Abril Educação: Gepetto

And Gepetto lived far away from Pinocchio ever after.
The story ends where you stop reading.
Keep reading.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

New Book: Classic Bedtime Stories by Scott Gustafson

Classic Bedtime Stories by Scott Gustafson will be released this Tuesday. A companion book of Gustafson's bestselling Classic Fairy Tales, over ten years in the making.

I received a review copy of the book and all of the illustrations are beautiful. I like to think of it as the chance to get more lush paintings for stories not included in the first book. This new book offers us:

The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
Sleeping Beauty
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Story of Little Sambha and the Tigers
The Bremen Town Musicians
The Three Billy Goats Gruff
The Lion and the Mouse
Jack and the Beanstalk

The stories are suitable for bedtime and the images will thrill many children's imaginations as well as those reading to them. Gustafson's illustrations remind me of some of the books I loved in my childhood, some that are lost in memory actually. The super bright colors and soft focus are very appealing. This will make a nice holiday gift for some young--or old--ones this year.

Book description:

Once upon a time, artist Scott Gustafson set out to illustrate classic stories, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes. Decades later, his immediately recognizable paintings have made bestsellers of Peter Pan, The Night Before Christmas, Classic Fairy Tales and Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose. Now he gives us Classic Bedtime Stories, a lavishly illustrated, oversized collection of some of his favorite tales.

Stories such as “Sleeping Beauty,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” and “Sambha and the Tigers” leap off the page thanks to Gustafson’s exquisite paintings and lively retelling of these classics. “The Lion and the Mouse” and “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse” demonstrate his talent at creating uncanny anthropomorphic characters who keep us smiling even as they teach us about tolerance, diversity, and the Golden Rule.

A book that even adults will enjoy reading aloud again and again,Classic Bedtime Stories will keep youngsters of all ages engaged for hours. Gustafson’s unique style makes this a volume to be cherished by children, parents, and grandparents for generations to come.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bargain Ebook: Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel by Katherine Harbour is $1.99

Thorn Jack: A Night and Nothing Novel (Night and Nothing Novels) by Katherine Harbour is on sale in ebook format for $1.99. Released earlier this year, this is a Tam Lin retelling.

Book description:

Combining the sorcery of The Night Circus with the malefic suspense of A Secret History, Thorn Jack is a spectacular, modern retelling of the ancient Scottish ballad, Tam Lin—a beguiling fusion of love, fantasy, and myth that echoes the imaginative artistry of the works of Neil Gaiman, Cassandra Clare, and Melissa Marr.

In the wake of her older sister’s suicide, Finn Sullivan and her father move to a quaint town in upstate New York. Populated with socialites, hippies, and dramatic artists, every corner of this new place holds bright possibilities—and dark enigmas, including the devastatingly attractive Jack Fata, scion of one of the town’s most powerful families.

As she begins to settle in, Finn discovers that beneath its pretty, placid surface, the town and its denizens—especially the Fata family—wield an irresistible charm and dangerous power, a tempting and terrifying blend of good and evil, magic and mystery, that holds dangerous consequences for an innocent and curious girl like Finn.

To free herself and save her beloved Jack, Finn must confront the fearsome Fata family . . . a battle that will lead to shocking secrets about her sister’s death.

New Book: Classics Reimagined, Grimm's Fairy Tales by Yann Legendre (Illustrator)

Classics Reimagined, Grimm's Fairy Tales by Wilhelm Grimm (Author), Jacob Grimm (Author), Yann Legendre (Illustrator) was released this month and has some fascinating illustrations of Grimms. Although I have shared the color illustration work primarily below, the B&W is my favorite from the previews I have seen. But one color image of Aschenputtel below is a new favorite, too. Of course, the publisher uses Cinderella as the name here but if there are Grimms involved and a tree, it's Aschenputtel folks!

I haven't seen the book itself yet but it's definitely an art book. The Amazon preview also allows you to read some of the text which is the fairly standard renditions of Grimms--I didn't bother to try to identify the translation.

I'll start with images of the Table of Contents so you can see the tales included:

Book description:

Rockport revisits these classics in a new series lushly illustrated by some of today's most endearing and sought-after artists. These aren't your typical classics--our artists reinterpret these stories and create a stunning presentation unlike any you've ever seen. Book enthusiasts and artisans will want to collect the entire series. French artist Yann Legendre takes readers on a beautiful journey through the stories by the brothers Grimm, with his luscious imagery. These stories take on a whole new meaning when accompanied by Legendre's mystical, colorful interpretations. This edition of the Classics Reimagined series will excite and enthrall all!?

About the Illustrator

Yann Legendre is an internationally recognized illustrator, designer and art director based in Paris. His illustrations have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Reader, Perspective Magazine, le Monde... He is the art director of the French publisher Inculte, designing each book cover and every illustrated book series. He regularly creates illustrations for Universal Music in London, the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago, Janus Films and the Criterion Collection in New York. In 2011, CB2 (Crate & Barrel) commissioned him to illustrate a new collection of furniture called "Fresh Ink". In 2010 he started a collaboration with the filmmaker Joe Swanberg, designing and illustrating all of the director's movie posters. Yann received an Award of Excellence for the best movie poster design from the South by Southwest Film Festival.

Okay, we all know by now that I love illustrations of Aschenputtel with her tree. This is one of my new favorites.

This appears to be for Frog King. It's in the end papers.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Bargain Ebooks: Inspirational Fairy Tales by Melanie Dickerson

The Fairest Beauty and The Captive Maiden by Melanie Dickerson are both on sale in ebook format for 99 cents each. They have been on sale previously but are usually in the $5 range and this is the lowest price they have ever reached.

These are currently reduced to help promote the next title in Dickerson's fairy tale series--there are currently four books in print--which will be release in November. The fifth book, The Princess Spy, is a retelling of The Frog Prince and the description for how the Frog Prince plot devices are used are rather clever. I'm always fascinated with people's imaginations. I'm also thrilled that Frog Prince is getting an interpretation. I keep waiting for authors to be inspired by it but the only regular modern playfulness of it tends to come in picture book fractured tales--there's not even that many straightforward versions of it in picture books. Nor did Disney's Princess and the Frog spike a resurgence of this tale from publishers, very unusual.

Book description for The Fairest Beauty:

Sophie has long wished to get away from her stepmother’s jealous anger, and believes escape is her only chance to be happy. Then a young man named Gabe arrives from Hagenheim Castle, claiming she is betrothed to his older brother, and everything twists upside down. This could be her chance at freedom—but can she trust another person to keep her safe?

Gabe knows he defied his parents Rose and Wilhelm by going to find Sophie, and now he believes they had a right to worry: the orphan girl has stolen his heart. Though romance is impossible—she is his brother’s future wife, and Gabe himself is betrothed to someone else—he promises to himself he will keep her safe, no matter what.

When the pair are forced to run to the Cottage of the Seven, they find help—but also find their feelings for each other have grown. Can they find a way to protect Sophie while also safeguarding their hearts?

Book description for The Captive Maiden:

Happily Ever After …
Or Happily Nevermore?

Gisela’s childhood was filled with laughter and visits from nobles such as the duke and his young son. But since her father’s death, each day has been filled with nothing but servitude to her stepmother. So when Gisela learns the duke’s son, Valten—the boy she has daydreamed about for years—is throwing a ball in hopes of finding a wife, she vows to find a way to attend, even if it’s only for a taste of a life she’ll never have. To her surprise, she catches Valten’s eye. Though he is rough around the edges, Gisela finds Valten has completely captured her heart. But other forces are bent on keeping the two from falling further in love, putting Gisela in more danger than she ever imagined.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Fairy Tale Romances by Victoria Alexander

Back in the last century, granted the very end of it, romance novels with fairy tale themes were popular. Actually, things haven't changed much. They still are or are again depending on your perspective.

Two of the titles on the fairy tale romance novels list that have always intrigued me are The Emperor's New Clothes, first published in 1997, and The Princess and the Pea, first published in 1996, by Victoria Alexander. Stand alone novels, according to Alexander's site, the novels were out of print for a while but have been reissued in recent years. Recently, they have also been released digitally for the first time which means they don't have to ever go out of print again. (Do you get sick of my glee over books staying in print as ebooks? I don't obviously. I still am thrilled every time I see older titles are released and achieve a new life.)

So why do these books stand out to me--I've not read them I admit--they weren't even readily available again until recently. It's probably obvious to some of you but I'll explain myself. These are two fairy tales that are rarely reinterpreted in modern fiction of any sort. Whatever the result, I admire an author who takes on that challenge. Alexander chose two Hans Christian Andersen tales, too, which I doubt was a coincidence. Those are some tricky fairy tales to reinterpret in a novel length effort. To remind ourselves of the short list, visit the Modern Interpretations pages at Emperor's New Clothes and Princess and the Pea. Romances aren't on the lists there but on a separate list. To my knowledge it's the only novel length interpretation of Emperor's Clothes ever. All others have been short stories or in the case of Adam Gidwitz's In a Glass Grimmly, it was a chapter of a novel.

Are you interested in a list of fairy tale romance novel titles? I have a list hidden on SurLaLune at Fairy Tale Romances. It hasn't been updated in a while, but it's still one of the best lists around of that nature. The Cinderella list could be almost doubled by now. She's a favorite trope for romance authors. Ditto Beauty and the Beast although those interpretations tend to be much looser than the Cinderella ones. The others, not so much.

Book description for The Emperor's New Clothes:

#1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander spins the unforgettable story of a beautiful grifter and an irresistible mayor ...

Mistaken for the Countess of Bridgewater, expert con artist Ophelia Kendrake can't believe her good fortune. This could be the opportunity she needs to secure the future of the sister who means so much to her. But when she meets Tyler "Tye" Matthews, her plans to dupe the sleepy town of Dead End, Wyoming, prove difficult—for she's met her match in the wildly attractive mayor.

As the reluctant new mayor of Dead End, Tye is irritated to learn his first duty in office is to escort a visiting countess. But when he sees the stunning beauty, he wants to spend every waking moment with her. Suspecting Ophelia has secrets, Tye vows to uncover them—and thoroughly seduce her.

Book description for The Princess and the Pea:

The classic tale of a fervent courtship between an American heiress and a dashing British earl from #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander

Feel the pea through this bed and win the heart of the man you'll wed.

A true American princess, Cecily White stood to inherit her father's business empire. And with the twentieth century right around the corner, the independent beauty had no intention of marrying some foreign nobleman seeking her money. Then, on a trip to England, Cece fell under the spell of a dashing peer who had more to recommend him than the length of his title and the size of his countinghouse. But Cece wouldn't surrender her heart to the virile Earl of Graystone until he proved that the only treasure he wanted was her love.